Real world examples of Robert Glazer’s step-by-step masterclass on remote work
Image (Wikipedia): Canva co-founder and CEO Melanie Perkins
Making news is Aussie tech giant Canva's whopping $55 billion valuation (and the founders' plan to gift millions). But also newsworthy is the nuts and bolts of Canva's public outlining of its hybrid workplace beyond the pandemic.
It comes after 79% of surveyed Canva staff said they felt productive working from home and 81% wanted to continue hybrid work. So, Canva has ditched strict numbers of days spent in the office. Instead, teams will use three guiding principles:
1. Think team first: The balance of virtual and in-person activities is up to each team.
2. Plan some office time each season: One to two times per season teams are to come together in-person. Canva to provide ‘vibe-y’ office experiences.
3. All company-wide events will continue in a global and hybrid format: 2,000 so-called “Canvanauts” to attend company-wide events in a globally hybrid format.
Flexibility and connection are the two core pillars for Canva’s work model, and they were the key elements outlined in author and CEO Robert Glazer’s masterclass for Growth Faculty.
How to thrive in the virtual workplace
Robert Glazer is the bestselling author of How to Thrive in the Virtual Workplace. He’s also the founder and CEO of Acceleration Partners, with 240 employees working remotely. Its revenues have grown 10x since 2011, and it’s won Best Place to Work awards. As Forbes Magazine says of Robert’s company, “Acceleration has won lots of best-places-to-work awards even though it doesn’t actually have a place!”
Robert Glazer’s Step-by-step playbook
Robert says make-do won’t do any longer. To have a competitive advantage, companies must become more intentional. He lists three areas for action:
1. WHAT REMOTE EMPLOYEES NEED
· A dedicated work area with proper setup. Effective internet, a second monitor. Consider a microphone and stand, ring light, and green screen for zoom meetings.
· A structured schedule with breaks. Tools like SaneBox can help productivity.
· A re-created commute. Ignore the phone until after the shower and coffee. Similarly, have an end of work day transition. Encourage self-care (Acceleration Partners does a wellness competition).
2. KEYS TO REMOTE LEADERSHIP
· Hire people who will excel in your version of the workplace. Schedule their onboarding week so they’re not left floundering.
· Eliminate unnecessary meetings and cut meetings in half. Put updates in memos, not in meetings. Try asynchronous video (not live-to-air) as an alternative communication tool.
· Manage outcomes not inputs. Follow 85% rule – if it’s mostly the way you want it – and you’re not doing it – that’s a win. Trust and verify. Trust them but if performance is below standard then dig deeper.
• Availability and expectations. Know when their flag is up and their flag is down. Nobody is tracking a coffee break, but if they're out for two hours, they tell the boss, not just disappear!
· Don’t use spy tech. It comes back to trust, and inputs versus outcomes.
3. GO FORWARD STRATEGY
Be clear about your choice: Back to “normal”, all remote, or hybrid. Questions should include:
· How far from an office can people live?
· When are they expected to be in the office? Can it be on short notice?
· How are meetings handled?
· How will you level the playing field for people who are out of sight?
· How will you handle blue collar/white collar divisions?
IMPORTANT TIP: Don’t tell employees that they can work from anywhere.
Different countries have different employment laws, taxes, and benefits which can lead to huge administration fees. Robert’s company has eight “hubs” around the world. His management team flies around to these hubs.
Case study - Avista Aviation Consulting
Sara Hales is growing a remote workforce in aviation consulting. Avista Aviation Consulting grew out of COVID-19, during the worst downturn the industry has ever known.
Managing Director Sara says the pandemic meant the aviation industry was more open to taking strategic advice. Avista now helps airports in their need to find other revenues through business diversification.
“There wasn’t really a market for advice beforehand, and we saw an opportunity to help,” she said.
Sara says Avista is bringing on more staff and so she got a lot out of the masterclass with Robert Glazer. For her, two pieces of advice stood out:
1. Being more intentional about aspects of remote work that had come about almost by accident. Sara says she needs to create structure.
2. Setting expectations. Sara says part-time remote work had been a cause of friction, such as understanding when people are available. Sara says she needs to articulate her expectations to support an environment of trust.
“If you never articulate, then it’s your fault as a leader,” she says.
We all scrabbled to cope with remote and hybrid work at the start of the pandemic. How quickly the workforce has grown used to it! Now leaders are under some pressure to clarify how they will move forward. Growth Faculty's own snap poll asked:
When COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, how often would you prefer to work from home?
- 6% said NONE of the time.
- 51% said SOME of the time (ie. 40% of the time).
- 32% said MOST of the time (ie. 80% of the time).
- 11% said ALL of the time.
In short, 94% of respondents wanted a remote or hybrid workplace. They can't all be the "least engaged" workers, as WeWork CEO Sandeep Mathrani put it (he later apologised, and said the future of work was hybrid and flexible). As Robert Glazer says, the best decision is looking forwards and not backwards. It's time to spell out what your company workplace looks like from this point forward - then do it exceptionally well.
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